germanic Heritage & ancestry
My family ancestry (maternal and paternal) is ethnically German (Volksdeutsch), originating from the south-eastern European area of the Banat, an administrative region of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire that was once ruled by the House of Habsburg. Through excellent records compiled by Peter Hummel, Nikolaus Fuhry, and Josef Pitzer in the 3 volume Familienbuch der katholischen Pfarrgemeinde Sackelhausen im Banat, I trace this ancestry back to settlers who arrived ca. 1780 and lived mainly in Sackelhausen (now Săcălaz) and Engelsbrunn (now Fântânele). I have actively maintained many of the cultural aspects of this heritage all of my life, some examples of which are below.
history: the german-American experience in St. Louis
I write and regularly contribute history articles for the German Cultural Society of St. Louis triannual bulletin, the Rundschreiben. My main research interest is what might be called "the German-American experience in St. Louis", namely documenting German-American cultural history, contributions of German-Americans, German-American friendship, etc. within the larger contexts of the history of the City of St. Louis and of Missouri & American history. The long shadows of 2 World Wars and other subsequent developments have resulted in a state of affairs in which many of these aspects of the local, regional, and national history are quite unappreciated today. My aim is to tell these stories via historically accurate and factual recounting. A few recent sample articles are here:
- Wendl MC (2022) Männerchor, Ernst Herzwurm, and the 38–th Sängerfest in St. Louis, DKV Rundschreiben 22(2), 14-21.
- Wendl MC (2022) German–American Friendship: Flight of Die Drei Luftmusketiere and their Visit to St. Louis, DKV Rundschreiben 22(3), 20-25.
- Wendl MC (2023) Georg Ahrens’ German Consular Tenure in St. Louis, DKV Rundschreiben, 23(1), 22-28.
volksmusik - the Wendl Band
I've played the accordion since I was a young boy. My brother Steve and I have been performing for more than 30 years, primarily ethnic German folk music from the Banat region where my family originates, as well as ethnic music from other regions e.g. Rhinelieder. We have performed from Tennessee to Chicago, but "home base" for almost 25 years was Stone Hill Winery in Hermann, Missouri, where we played for numerous Oktoberfests, Maifests, grape stomps, and dances. In the theme of preserving culture, language, and traditions, our children are now active. Here are pictures from a number of years ago: (below left) me with my now-retired Iorio-H (I now play a Baldoni Artist model; the rest of the band is to my left, sorry guys :), and (below right) with my father, also Michael Wendl (right) and I (left) with Hans Gans (middle) of the old Goldene 3 from Chicago (taken at the 2006 Landestrachtenfest at American Aid Society's Lake Villa grounds).
Deutscher Kulturverein (formerly the American Aid Society)
I am a lifelong member of the German Cultural Society of St. Louis. The organization originated as one of the American Aid Societies that were formed to assist refugees from WWII. My maternal grandfather, Nikolaus Holzinger (below left with my grandmother Gertrude Holzinger in 1926), was one of the founders and one of my paternal great-grandfathers, Michael Mueller, founded the society's Jugendgruppe. I have participated in many aspects of the society, including the Kleinegruppe (1976-1980), Jugendgruppe (1981-1991), Gruen-Weiss soccer team (1987-1990), official society publication the Rundschreiben (current; see above), and building maintenance group "A-team" (current). I was Kirchweih Vortänzer in 1986 with Heidi Nemeth Youtsler (another Washington University graduate). The Youtube video immediately below covers GCS Kirchweih history: Heidi and I are at 5:21. My "campaign shadowbox" (bottom left) contains the regalia from my many Jugendgruppe trips to various Landestreffen in other cities (Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland, etc.) over roughly 10 years. I was also part of the 1990 youth group Germany trip. In the bottom 2 videos, I'm always the one playing the accordion, but I'm also sometimes dancing.
St. Louis Strassenfest
The St. Louis Strassenfest (SLS) was an annual 3-day summer festival celebrating the Germanic heritage of the City of St. Louis, as well as German-American friendship, attracting at times more than 100,000 people annually. It also had a charitable mission, donating generously to many St. Louis area non-profits, including the Missouri Botanical Garden, founding the Strassenfest German Garden, complete with a bronze bust of Dr. George Engelmann. My father, Michael J. Wendl, ran this festival in its heyday, having been Strassenfest Corporation President for many years. Below is my father (left) with then-mayor of St. Louis Francis Slay (right) during the 2000 Strassenfest opening at St. Louis City Hall. I never played a leadership role in this organization, but was glad to be a sometime mitmacher (see nifty badges at bottom).